The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books, so it’s time for the annual NFL Draft Grades by Simon Shortt. Today we will be discussing the: NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – B+

Team Needs: RB, EDGE, LG

The Atlanta Falcons were one of the few teams in good position to draft a RB early. They have a run first, second and third oriented system. A very well-built offensive line. And a second-year quarterback they need to support. And by the way, they were up high enough to take Bijan Robinson, the best RB prospect since Saquon Barkley. This is a rare instance where I love the drafting of a RB.

Atlanta nailed Day 2 by rounding out their offensive line with Matthew Bergeron – who could one day kick out to left tackle to replace Jake Matthews – and adding another young edge rusher in Zach Harrison to a team that was at the bottom of the league in getting after the quarterback. Clark Phillips III in the fourth round was also great value.

Carolina Panthers – A

Team Needs: QB, WR, EDGE

I mean what is there to say? Carolina went and got their guy in Bryce Young, and finished out Day 2 by going for good players at positions of need.

If you listen to The Fantom Football Podcast (which you should) you know my feelings on drafting Bryce Young versus C.J. Stroud or Anthony Richardson. That keeps this from an A+. But I still like Young, and what Carolina did.

I especially like them taking Jonathan Mingo as the first WR of round two. Adding a young guy to that room with Adam Thielen an DJ Chark is a big get for Carolina and Young.

New Orleans Saints – B-

Team Needs: DL, TE

There is a theme to my grades and it is this: DON’T DRAFT MID ROUND RUNNING BACKS. Unless you just have so many picks, not a lot of depth at the position and you have a decent offensive line. Otherwise, it WILL keep a team’s grade “low”.

With that, I like a lot of the other stuff New Orleans did. They needed to replenish their defensive line which they did with Bryan Bresee and Isaiah Foskey. There’s good value in A.T. Perry in the sixth round. And they add to the talented, albeit aging, offensive line with Nick Saldiveri.

I do, however, wish they had gone for one of the many good tight ends in this class.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – C+

Team Needs: OL, DL, DB

Trust me, I did not think whoever drafted Cody Mauch would be getting a C+, but here we are. In Tampa’s “defense” they’re in a weird spot. Transitioning, but not rebuilding. But also probably not really “competing”.

Calijah Kancey felt such like a typical move. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it either. I see Kancey as a rotational, pass rushing DT. But it does fit their identity, as done getting edge rusher YaYa Diaby. Even Jose Ramirez in the sixth round is interesting.

Mauch joining this line says to me that they aren’t totally sure what they’re doing just yet. Ryan Jenson and Tristian Wirfs are locks. But then you have Robert Hainsey, Luke Goedeke, Matt Feiler and now Mauch who have played inside and out. All probably battling for the other three starting spots. It’s not great, but it’s not like there’s a franchise QB you have to protect.

The NFC South showed up fairly well in our NFL Draft Grades led by some high-powered offensive talents. I’m not sure how many wins it will equal in 2023-24, but you KNOW those games are going to be fun to watch.

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